TikTok, one of the most famous video-sharing platforms in India, has been caught collecting personal data of children aged under 13, illegally.
The app, which has more than a billion downloads worldwide, has been slapped with a fine of $5.7 million for the practice and will be making immediate changes to its data collection strategy.
Here's more on the issue.
TikTok collected personal information without parental consent
Just recently, Children's Advertising Review Unit, a US-based group, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission reporting TikTok's violation of a federal children's privacy law.
Under the law, dubbed Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), apps/websites are required to take parental consent before allowing children aged 13 or below to access their services.
However, TikTok ignored the law blatantly and collected their data.
Names, emails, other personal data mined
"The operators of Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, knew many children were using the app, but they still failed to seek parental consent before collecting names, email addresses, and other personal information from users under the age of 13," FTC chairman Joe Simons stated.
Now, TikTok has to pay $5.7 million as fine
In the wake of these accusations and 'thousands of complaints', TikTok has agreed to pay $5.7 million as fine to settle the matter.
Along with fine, the platform has also been ordered to delete the ill-gotten data and set up an age gate to define a clear line between the experiences for children and adults.
Notably, these changes have already started coming into effect.
Restrictions on sharing videos, maintaining profiles
As part of the settlement, TikTok is prompting new and existing users to add their age and making changes accordingly.
The experience for adult users remains unaffected, but those under 13 would be prevented from uploading videos, maintaining profiles, commenting, or messaging on the platform.
Meanwhile, some users have also reported that their accounts and previously-uploaded videos were deleted post adding the age.
Plus, it is seeking government ID proof
We apologize for the inconvenience. Please provide confirmation that you are age 13 or older by submitting a copy of a government ID on the “Report a Problem” section on the app.